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Hong Kong airport calm as few protesters dare to defy injunction 

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The number of people protesting at Hong Kong International Airport fell to less than 100 on Wednesday as the result of a court injunction against demonstrators from the airport authority.

Nonetheless security was tight, with travellers on an airport express train required to show travel itineraries to enter the terminal, while police officers were also present in the check-in area.

Demonstrators occupied areas of Hong Kong International Airport for five consecutive days until Tuesday, causing hundreds of flights to be cancelled and culminating in violent scuffles between protesters and riot police.

On Wednesday, some protesters handed out flyers to tourists apologizing for travel delays and ensuing tensions between protesters and travellers.

“My standpoint is we should apologize,” said Bruce Lee, who was sitting on the ground in the arrivals hall alongside other protesters.

However, Lee said that travellers should be aware of the ongoing tensions resulting from a violent stand-off between undercover police officers and protesters the night before.

“The government does not have any response to us and that’s why we needed to take action for other countries and governments to know about (the situation),” Lee said.

Also on Wednesday, Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong called the actions of protesters who assaulted two Chinese mainland citizens and prevented first aid personnel from reaching them as “no different from the atrocities of terrorists.”

The statement represents an escalation in Beijing’s designation of protests in Hong Kong and fuels fears that a military intervention could be used to quell weeks of unrest in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

Violent clashes erupted late Tuesday when police were called to the airport to rescue an undercover officer and a reporter from Chinese state news outlet Global Times, who were both attacked by demonstrators.

The reporter had been tied up and assaulted, and demonstrators prevented first aid personnel from reaching him, the Hong Kong government said.

Police said they arrested five protesters on charges including unlawful assembly, possession of offensive weapons, assaulting police and breaching the peace.

Beijing mouthpiece Global Times said in an editorial that the protests were a “colour revolution” meant to destabilize the local government and “give the city back to the Western world”.

The tabloid condemned the attack on one of its journalists, calling the protesters professionally-trained “rioters”.

Separately on Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that he had seen troop movements near the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border.

“Our Intelligence has informed us that the Chinese Government is moving troops to the Border with Hong Kong. Everyone should be calm and safe!” he tweeted.

China’s military maintains a garrison in Hong Kong and military movements are not uncommon in the border of Shenzhen.

They typically occur at night, however, to avoid upsetting civilians.

Protests against a controversial legislative bill that would have allowed for the extradition of suspected criminals to mainland China began on June 9.

Since then, protesters have expanded their demands to include an independent commission into police violence and for universal suffrage in the election of the city’s leadership.

YEE

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

Foreign

Somali forces kill 20 al-Shabab militants in southern region

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Militants

Odawa Rage, the commander of Somali infantry division said the militants launched an attack on Somali army base in Bariire town but the forces fought them back and wreak severe casualties.

“The confrontation was fierce but our forces repelled the militants, killing 20 of them and injured more than 30 others,’’ Rage said.

Locals reported seeing bodies on the streets following the clashes.

“We were shocked by the sounds of heavy gun fire last night and in the morning we saw many bodies in the streets near the army base,’’ Guled Adow, a resident told Xinhua by phone.

On Aug. 14, the militants drove suicide car bombs on the army’s base in Awdheegle town in the same region in which the government said it killed seven al-Shabab militants and injured 10 others.

The militant group reportedly deployed hundreds of its fighters to Lower Shabelle region after losing control of Bariire, Sabiid, Caanole and Awdheegle towns this year.

 

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Zimbabwe to borrow 1.9 bn from G7 countries to repay debt

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Zimbabwe to borrow 1.9 bn from G7 countries to repay debt

Debt

Mthuli said immediately after clearing the debt, Zimbabwe would seek 1 billion dollars from the two multilateral financial institutions to repay the G7 debt, the Herald newspaper reported.

The minister said Zimbabwe also expected the Paris Club, whom it owes 2.8 billion dollars, to forgive part of the debt.

The G7 is made up of the United States, Britain, France, Italy, Canada, Germany and Japan.

Mthuli said Zimbabwe’s total external debt stood at approximately 8.5 billion dollars as at end of June this year.

The debts, owed for over a decade now, have prevented the country from accessing fresh capital from the multilateral financial institutions to help revive the economy.

This is despite the fact that the country in 2016 cleared its 108 million dollars arrears with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Mthuli said Zimbabwe will need to first complete a staff monitored programme (SMP) with the IMF to restore sound and sustainable macro-economic fundamentals to be in good standing for fresh credit.

The SMP is Zimbabwe’s second in five years, and will run for 10 months from June 2019 to March 2020. (Xinhua/NAN)

HLM/AFA

 

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Schools, offices open in Indian Kashmir amid border clashes

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Schools, offices open in Indian Kashmir amid border clashes

Tensions have spiked in Kashmir, which has been the source of a long-running territorial dispute between India and Pakistan, since India’s Hindu nationalist government revoked special status granted to its part of the region on Aug. 5.

The move downgraded the region’s autonomy and divided what was once the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir into two federally-administered territories.

Deadly border clashes followed between India and Pakistan, who have previously fought two wars over Kashmir.

More than 190 primary schools in Srinagar and surrounding areas had reopened but while teachers and staff showed up in most schools, only a few students attended classes, local media reported.

“We have opened schools in some areas after reviewing security. We appeal to parents to send their children to wherever schools have reopened.

“Security is our responsibility,” Senior Official, Shahid Choudhary, said.

Parents said they were apprehensive of sending children to schools in light of the security situation. “I can’t send my children to school.

The situation is not conducive and I can’t take a risk,” Srinagar resident, Abdul Aziz, said.

Life was slowly limping back to normal in the region as government employees also returned to work with offices fully functional on Monday.

The communications blackout was also eased with two-thirds of the landline telephone services being restored. Internet and mobile services however, still remained suspended across the region.

Restrictions on movement have been relaxed in some areas amid reports of scattered violence on the weekend, according to officials and local media.

Asked about the tight lockdown in several parts which forced people in their homes, senior official K Vijaya Kumar said the decision was taken to ensure no lives were lost in protests or violence.

He referred to unrest in the region in 2010 when 110 people had died. “This time, we were sure we wanted to save as many lives as possible,” Kumar said.

The Kashmir border remained tense with at least two people killed in exchanges of gunfire between Pakistani and Indian border forces on Sunday, Pakistani police said.

Indian troops fired across the Line of Control (LoC), the de facto frontier that divides the Himalayan valley into parts controlled by the two countries

“Two people were killed when a shell landed close to the venue of a wedding ceremony in Darra Sher Khan village,” local police officer Mohammad Aziz, said.

A young boy was also wounded after being hit by splinters of a shell, he said.

Pakistan’s army retaliated after Indian forces lobbed mortars and rockets at the civilian population without any provocation, the military’s media wing ISPR said.

There were reports of the killings of at least two Indian soldiers but there was no official comment from New Delhi.

At least three Pakistani soldiers and two civilians were killed in Kashmir on Thursday in the first exchange of fire between border troops since New Delhi stripped India-administered Kashmir of its special status.

Nuclear-armed Pakistan and India control only parts of Kashmir, but each lays claim to the entire region since the countries gained independence from Britain in 1947. (dpa/NAN)

FAT/SN

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Countries move to ban African elephants for zoos, circuses

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Countries move to ban African elephants for zoos, circuses

Daniela Freyer, a Co-founder of the Pro Wildlife Conservation Group, on Monday welcomed the decision taken by a sub-committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

“Catching wild elephant babies from their herds traumatiSes them and is completely unacceptable,” she said on the sidelines of the meeting.

Some 183 countries have signed on to the convention.

According to the decision taken, wild elephants can only be traded to be placed in animal conservation programmes within Africa.

Zimbabwe has been especially active in selling elephant babies to Asia and other regions, according to Freyer.

The ban has yet to be formally adopted at the end of the conference, which will on Aug. 28.

Due to procedural problems, the EU was not able to cast its vote in the committee.

As the bloc opposes to the proposal, it is unclear whether the necessary two-thirds majority will be reached for the ban to be approved.

On Thursday, participants are expecting the conference to decide whether to loosen or restrict trade with elephant tusks. (dpa/NAN)

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S/Africa urges India, Pakistan to resolve differences through peaceful means

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Appeal

The department added that the issue of Jammu and Kashmir should be resolved bilaterally.

The country’s Spokesperson, Clayson Monyela, said South Africa is voicing concern over the escalation of tensions surrounding the developments in Jammu and Kashmir.

Monyela said Pretoria calls on both countries to exercise restraint and refrain from actions that could further exacerbate the situation and potentially destabilise the region.

He further stressed the urgent need for both parties to tone down their rhetoric.

South Africa further appeals that the freedom and rights of citizens be respected in line with international humanitarian and human rights laws.

He added that “given South Africa’s history of a peaceful and democratic transition, we strongly believe that meaningful dialogue and consultations are the only way to sustainably resolve disputes’’.

Monyela, further stressed that the future of Jammu and Kashmir should be settled by peaceful means through inclusive dialogue.

He said demonstrations had taken place in parts of South Africa in relation to Jammu and Kashmir.

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